Since moving to New York in 1979, activist and photographer Donna Ferrato has documented, engaged, and propelled two generations of the feminist movement. This exhibition provides a survey of her work as a lens through which to see how that movement has evolved, from the first domestic violence shelters to #MeToo, from sex clubs to courtrooms deciding the future of reproductive justice. On the surrounding walls, her work has been divided into four themes: Motherhood, Violence, Empowerment, and Pleasure. These themes are not singular, but suggest a diversity of positions and strategies within the feminist movement, as activists debated how to theorize sexual repression and transgression; how to define empowerment physically, economically, legally, and sexually; and whether to pursue cultural transformation primarily through the courts, through mass media, or through guerilla art and street activism.
Feminism is a collective project. As the 2021 Parker Faculty Curator, I
gratefully acknowledge the significant labor and guidance of a faculty, staff, and student collective that has brought this exhibition to fruition.
The direction and support of the Wright Museum of Art has made this project not only possible, but enjoyable. Thanks to Director Joy Beckman and Interim Director Christa Story for the opportunity, space, and structure to make it happen. Christa was resourceful and always one step ahead in seeing the exhibition from planning to execution. Collections Manager Intern Brooke McCammond has been diligent and, thankfully, patient with a novice curator. At the last minute, Jason Dettman graciously supported the exhibition with logistical help and designing the catalog.
The Wright’s collection of Donna Ferrato photographs began with a donation from Summit Art Advisory. This exhibition was completed with a generous loan from the Bates College Museum of Art. Many thanks to Director Daniel T. Mills and Assistant Collections Manager and Registrar Corie Audette.
Finally, I wish to thank the students in “Queer and Feminist Art and
Literature,” from whom I have learned a great deal about gender, sexuality, politics, activism, and what it means to participate in a community. The classroom is a political space. I am grateful for students so eager to take on the difficult work of politics together.
Assistant Professor of English and Media Studies